Category: CpE

Graduate Research Colloquium 2021

by Graduate Student Government

This year’s Graduate Research Colloquium organized by the Graduate Student Government was hosted virtually due to COVID restrictions. There were in total 48 presentations — 17 poster presenters and 31 oral presenters.

Poster presentations took place in a pre-recorded video style and the oral sessions were hosted live via Zoom. You can watch all the poster videos and recordings for the oral sessions here. Each presentation was scored by two judges from the same field of research.

Participants were able to gain valuable feedback from these judges before presenting their research at an actual conference. It was stiff competition amongst all presenters. Following are the winners for each of these sessions.

Of the many presentations were the following by two graduate students affiliated with the College of Computing.

Simulating the Spread of Infectious Diseases
Meara Pellar-Kosbar, Data Science

This simulation is designed to show how a fictional viral illness could spread among people in a virtual room. Over the course of the virtual simulation, a number of automatic simulated people called subjects will move about an adjustable virtual grid. During this time, subjects will come into contact with each other and with item cells in the virtual room. Subjects will be exposed to this fictional virus via contact with other subjects, items, and via the air when within a certain distance of a contagious subject. The viral counts of each subject will be tracked and shown as the simulation runs, showing how the actions of the subjects’ affects their viral counts.

Cultural Competence Effects of Repeated Implicit Bias Training
Karen Colbert, Social Sciences

Karen Colbert is a PhD student in the Computational Sciences and Engineering department.

Abstract: Diversity training literature suggests that mandatory and recurrent sessions should maximize training efficacy, but research has primarily focused on single, brief training sessions that are often voluntary. Michigan Tech is one of few universities to implement required and repeated diversity training for all faculty who serve on search, tenure, and promotion committees. The goal of this study is to evaluate the training’s effectiveness, as well as to fill the gap in research on mandatory recurring diversity training. To do this, we anonymously surveyed faculty members on their knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to content from the Diversity Literacy program and scored responses to create a single composite score for each participant. We hypothesized that composite Cultural Competency Score (CCS) would be higher for faculty who 1) have taken more refresher trainings, and 2) completed training more recently. This study included 130 total respondents (large sample), 69 of whom provided their Diversity Literacy completion information anonymously through Human Resources (small sample). Composite CCS did not differ significantly by frequency of training, H(2)=3.78, p=.151. CCS did differ significantly by years since last training, F(2,63)=4.436, p=.016. Results from both large and small groups showed no statistical significant relationship between CCS and faculty committee service. CCS was negatively correlated with years employed at Tech in both the large (r=-0.363, p=0.002) and small (r = -0.258, p=0.01) samples. This relationship between low CCS and longer employment at Tech may additionally be related to the Diversity Literacy program’s implementation in 2010. Qualitative responses were also collected regarding training material that faculty found most memorable (N=102) and most confident to put into practice (N=93).

View all the Research Colloquium abstracts here.


Problem Solved: NSBE outreach continues despite pandemic

From The Mining Journal, Marquette, MI, March 11, 2021

Read the original article here.

HOUGHTON — A dedicated group of Michigan Tech students is spending the university’s Spring Break virtually showing students the benefits of science and technology education, according to a release from the university.

For the 10th straight year, members of Michigan Technological University’s National Society of Black Engineers, student chapter, will spend spring break spreading the message of STEM education to underrepresented middle and high school students in Detroit. While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of this year’s activities, it has brought about a creative way of reaching students.

Michigan Tech Computer Engineering major Jalen Vaughn leads a presentation to Detroit middle school students during the 2020 Alternative Spring Break, conducted by the Michigan Tech Student Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. This year’s outreach will be conducted virtually this week because of COVID-19. (Photos from MTU, NSBE)

They call it the Alternative Spring Break, and over the past decade, dozens of Michigan Tech’s NSBE students have personally visited with hundreds of Detroit-area students.

The mission — to encourage students to consider going to college and increase the diversity of those entering the science, technology, engineering and math pipeline.

Like many activities and events, this year’s Alternative Spring Break will be conducted virtually. During the week, the 11 MTU students who comprise this year’s NSBE Pre-College Initiative, will give presentations to every middle and high school science class at Chandler Park Academy in Detroit, a total of 74 classes and 1,850 students.

Andi Smith is vice president of NSBE and chair of this year’s PCI. The senior chemical engineering major is participating in PCI for the fourth year. Smith said despite the change in format, the message remains the same. “The best thing for me is being able to educate the students on things I wish I would’ve known when I was their age,” Smith said, adding that some of the schools they visit may not have all of the resources that schools in higher income areas have. “I also think it s extremely valuable that they hear this information from someone who looks like them and is close in age. I understand what it was like to be in their position and having some random person come in and school them on different subjects and how that can be extremely boring, so I try to make sure I combat the things I disliked about guest presenters and make it more engaging.

“This year I came up with the idea to create a scholarship for one of the students we speak to who decided to come to Michigan Tech. The scholarship will be used for travel, tuition, books or anything else they need in order to come to MTU,” explained Smith. She said the efforts of Michigan Tech alumna Erin Richie and other alumni made the scholarship a reality.

While popular in-person activities, such as family engineering events for K-8 students and their families, will not happen this year, the virtual sessions will reach more students with the important message of STEM.

“It is extremely important to encourage young people to enter into STEM fields because we need more and diverse innovators to create solutions to everyday problems and global challenges that we face,” said Smith.

Joan Chadde, director of Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, has mentored the group for its alternative Spring Break trip for the past 10 years. Chadde is excited the PCI outreach in Detroit schools will continue despite the pandemic.

“These presentations are designed to engage and inspire diverse students to learn about and consider careers in engineering and science by interacting with ‘hometown’ role models,” said Chadde, who noted that most of the participating NSBE students are from the Detroit area.

The NSBE student chapter’s outreach effort is funded by General Motors and Tech’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Smith said COVID-19 did make continuing the Alternative Spring Break program more difficult but solving problems is what being an engineer is all about.

“Engineering is such a diverse field that it can be intimidating to get started, but anyone can do it and be a part of it. Sometimes students just need to be made aware of the opportunity.


Computing Programs Ranked Among Best in Nation

Several Michigan Tech College of Computing degree programs have been ranked among the best in the nation by Intelligent.com. In addition, the research guide ranked the University number three among all colleges in Michigan.

Intelligent.com looked at nearly 2,300 accredited colleges and universities nationwide making evaluations based on curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation and post-graduate employment. Programs were evaluated on a scale of 0 to 100 with Michigan Tech making it to the final list for 12 separate degree programs.

The four College of Computing programs and their national ranking as rated by Intelligent.com are:

Additional Michigan Tech degree programs included in the rankings are:


College of Computing Convocation is December 18, 3:30 pm

Congratulations Class of 2020!

We are looking forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates at a Class of 2020 virtual Convocation program on Friday, December 18, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. EST.

Join the virtual event here.

The celebration will include special well-wishes from CC faculty and staff, and many will be sporting their graduation regalia. It is our privilege to welcome Ms. Dianne Marsh, 86, ’92, as our Convocation speaker. Dianne is Director of Device and Content Security for Netflix, and a member of the new College of Computing External Advisory Board.

We may be spread across the country and world this December, but we can still celebrate with some style. We look forward to sharing our best wishes with the Class of 2020 and wishing them continued success as they embark on the next phase of their lives!

This December, 40 students are expected to graduate with College of Computing degrees, joining 92 additional Class of 2020 PhD, MS, and BS alumni.

Dianne Marsh

Dianne Marsh ’86, ’92 is Director of Device and Content Security for Netflix. Her team is responsible for securing the Netflix streaming client ecosystem and advancing the platform security of Netflix-enabled devices. Dianne has a BS (’86) and MS (’92) in Computer Science from Michigan Tech.

Visit the Class of 2020 Webpage

Congratulations Graduates. We’re proud of you.


CpE PhD Candidate Zhiqiang Zhao to Present Defense October 23

ECE Doctoral Defense Tomorrow

Computer Engineering doctoral candidate Zhiqiang Zhao will defend at 4 p.m. tomorrow (Oct. 23) via Zoom.

The title of his presentation is “High-Performance Spectral Methods for Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits.”

Co-advisors are Zhuo Feng (ECE) and Glen Archer (ECE).


Michigan Tech Team Places 4th Overall in TiM$10K Challenge

A team of five Michigan Tech students received Honorable Mention honors and 4th Place overall in the second annual SICK Inc. TiM$10K Challenge, a national innovation and design competition. University students from around the country participated in the event designed to support innovation and student achievement in automation and technology.

The Michigan Tech team members — Brian Parvin (ME), Paul Allen (EE), David Brushaber (CompEng), Kurtis Alessi (CompEng) and Alex Kirchner (CompEng) — earned Honorable Mention (fourth place overall) for their project, “Evaluating Road Markings (the Road Stripe Evaluator).

The team is advised by Tony Pinar, Lecturer and Senior Design Coordinator, Electrical and Computer Engineering. Their project was sponsored by SICK Inc. Watch the team’s video about the project below.

SICK’s TiM$10K Challenge 2020 – Evaluating Road Markings (The Road Stripe Evaluator)


Adrienne Minerick, dean of Michigan Tech’s College of Computing, said in a June 1, 20920, Tech Today article that the accomplishments of these outstanding students illustrates Michigan Tech’s creativity and tenacity when faced with a challenge. “Our rapidly growing presence in cybersecurity is built upon our students deep knowledge of the fundamentals combined with the learning environment that promotes agility to meet (and exceed) any challenge. These hardworking and bright students deserve this recognition of their competitiveness. All of us in the College of Computing are proud.”

For the competition, teams were supplied with a 270-degree SICK LiDAR sensor and accessories, and challenged to solve a problem, create a solution, or bring a new application to any industry that utilizes the SICK LiDAR.

Each team submitted a video and paper for judging upon completion of its project. A panel of judges decided the winning submissions based on creativity and innovation, ability to solve a customer problem, commercial potential, entrepreneurship of the team, and reporting.

The Tech team developed an innovative product to help resolve issues caused by poor road markings, while reducing maintenance costs and improving motorist safety. Their new software uses reflectivity values obtained using a SICK LiDAR unit to identify deterioration of road stripes and recommend timely repainting, also aiding in the safety and reliability of self-driving vehicles on roadways.

They constructed a prototype to demonstrate functionality, in the form of a pushable cart that evaluates road markings. An intuitive user interface displays the markings being evaluated, and indicates if they meet necessary levels of reflectivity.

Pinar said the team was well organized and demonstrated an excellent work ethic from day one. “It was exciting to watch them identify a salient problem and develop a functional proof-of-concept solution despite the setbacks that affected us all after spring break,” he said.

“This was a unique project in that the team was required to identify a problem and develop a solution to it that is based on SICK’s TiM LiDAR, while most teams are handed a problem and asked to create a solution,” Pinar noted. “I think this format allowed the team to exercise even more innovation than on a ‘typical’ project.”

The same team of students was awarded Honorable Mention honors at this spring’s Design Expo Senior Design competition for their project, “Road Marking Reflectivity Evaluator.”

SICK, Inc. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sensors, safety systems, machine vision, encoders and automatic identification products for industrial applications.